Saturday, November 28, 2020

Interview for The Soul Mammas Podcast

 I was approached by Nicole De Leon of The Soul Mammas Podcast to share my life as a mother and adventurer.  I really enjoyed the interview and sharing my story. 

The balance of motherhood while still pursuing outdoor adventure can be challenging.  Check out the interview here or on apple podcasts.

Here are some of the takeaways of the episode: 

  • A return to teaching as a mother during a pandemic
  • How it is not always easy to deal with identity shifts that come along with becoming a parent.
  • How our lives change drastically when we become parents
  • The challenges of having two children under 5
  • How Lindsey was able to return to hiking and adventuring with one child, but how difficult it was with two
  • Gender roles and how society views moms and dads differently
  • Why her husband hasn't received criticism for traveling away from his kids, but she has.
  • The inequities sometimes faced by mommies
  • How her and her husband negotiate self care & their roles as mommy and daddy
  • Lindsey's newfound affinity for hiking in the snow

For more info about my life as the Freelance Adventurer, follow me on instagram or facebook!

Friday, October 9, 2020

3 Easy and Stunning Fall Foliage Hikes in the White Mountains

 It's my favorite time of year!  Time to see the White Mountains change from green to gold.  Lets put out pumpkins, drink cider, and go for a fall hike.  If you're looking for a perfect fall foliage hike in the White Mountains, here are three easy and stunning fall foliage hikes in the White Mountains of New Hampshire!

View from Ladies Ledge on Square Ledge Hike

Square Ledge, Pinkham Notch

This 1.1 mile out-and-back leaves from the Lost Pond Trailhead.  Park at Pinkham Notch Visitor Center and carefully cross route 16 to the trailhead.  The trail crosses over water, then immediately climbs up hill.  There is a nice lookout to Ladies Ledge.  Following the lookout, the trail gets steep and bouldery to climb to the ledge.  The view is stunning and rewards the hiker with a clear view of the Pinkham Notch.  I've also listed it as one of the best family hikes in the Whites. The ledge is very exposed and is also a popular climbing route.  Stay away from climbing ropes and don't throw objects over the edge.  

View from Artist Bluff

Artist Bluff, Franconia Notch

This 1.5 mile loop is located in the northern part of Franconia Notch. Park at the overflow lot to Cannon Ski area and walk to the back of the parking lot where you'll see the trail entrance and sign.  I travel the loop in a clockwise circuit.  The climb is moderate and goes through hardwood forest with multiple peeks at the view of the notch below.  The bluff is located on the descent and provides stunning views of Echo Lake, Cannon mountain, and the Franconia peaks to the left.  During fall, it erupts in color and is a rightly popular photo opportunity.  Continue the loop and get views along the way until you return to parallel the road back to the parking lot.  This trail is also gorgeous in winter!

Mt Willard view

Mt Willard, Crawford Notch

This 3.2 mile out-and-back is one I've written about before.  Park at the Crawford Train Depot, cross the tracks and follow the Avalon Trail until it breaks off to the left.  The first part of the trail is a gentle incline followed by a stream crossing.  After the crossing, the trail ascends through forest with a sweet view at Centennial Pool.  Continue up the trail over moderate terrain.  The last part of the trail levels off through a boreal forest until you emerge at the ledge.  Hikers are rewarded with views looking down the glacier carved Crawford Notch.

Here's How to Avoid the Crowds

These three trails are popular for good reason. They offer some of the best views in the Whites with comparatively minimal effort.  Consider visiting these sites during the weekdays, early mornings, or late afternoons to avoid crowds.  Make a back up plan to do a different hike if the trailhead parking is full.  

Plan Ahead and Be Prepared

Although these hikes are all moderate - they all area climb with uneven footing.  In fall, be prepared for variable weather and bring proper safety equipment.  Here's my list for packing for a fall day hike! Safe Travels! 

I hope you enjoy these three easy and stunning fall foliage hikes in the White Mountains of New Hampshire!

You might also enjoy these posts:

Perfect Family Hike in the Whites

5 Best Fall Hikes in the White Mountains

Fabulous Fall Family Fall Foliage Hikes

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Little Harbor Loop Trail - A Portsmouth Treasure

small girl on rock near water

In my pursuit to find all the best Seacoast hikes, I realized I had left out what many would consider the "capital" of the Seacoast - the city of Portsmouth.  I've done many trails near Portsmouth - Great Bay, Peverly Pond, and Fort Constitution , but very few nature walks actually within the city limits.  I did some research and decided to try Little Harbor Loop Hike.  I liked it so much, the next day I went back with the kids!

Here's how to recreate this adventure...

Adventure: Little Harbor Loop Trail

Getting there:  Little Harbor Loop trail has three possible parking areas along the trail.  One is at Wentworth-Coolidge Mansion located at the address: 375 Little Harbor Road in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.  This historic site and grounds is managed by New Hampshire State Parks and offers free parking and a trailhead to the loop.  The other two parking areas are located on the Creek Farm Reservation Property which is maintained by the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests.

Trail sign for little harbor loop in portsmouth new hampshire
The Little Harbor Loop Trial is well signed. 
Follow the yellow blazes!
Trail:  The trailhead to Little Harbor Loop is right in the parking lot to the Wentworth-Coolidge parking lot and marked with a small wooden sign and a gap in the woods.  The important thing to note on this trail is to follow the yellow blazes.  The trail is well marked but there are several unmarked offshoots where a hiker could get off course.  Stay on the yellow trail and you’ll be fine.

The hike begins in the woods.  You will hike over uneven terrain of rocks and roots.  The trail winds through woods, crossing a driveway, passing through two rock walls, and eventually to a trail junction sign that shows you can veer off the loop to the right to visit the “view spur”.  This is definitely worth it.  Take the spur and you will be rewarded with views of the tidal bay, rocky shoreline, and a grassy marsh.  Return the way you came and continue on the yellow-blazed loop.

The trail will cross the road and enter the well signed “Creek Farm Reservation” and second parking lot.  The trail is well signed, but travels along the road - yellow blazes marked on trees on the shoulder until entering the third parking lot for this hike near the Shoals Marine Laboratory and Sagamore Creek Boat Car Top Boat Launch.

The trail continues around the grounds of the impressive building and hugs the shore, curving around an inlet marked on the map as a tidal pool. Continue to follow the yellow blazes (now marked on stones), along the shore with views of Goose Island on your right.  

The trail will cut back inland and travel the road back to the parking lot of Wentworth-Coolidge Mansion.

Little Harbor Loop trail on road
Part of the Little Harbor Loop Trail walks along the road. 
Follow the yellow blazes.
Difficulty: Mostly easy with some root/rocky footing in the first half mile.

Distance: 1.5 miles


  • Little Harbor Loop Trail is managed by the New Hampshire state parks and the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests.  It is open dawn to dusk.

  • A trail map is available on the Wentworth-Coolidge Mansion website.

  • Dogs are not allowed on the trail.

  • At low tide visitors can walk out to some of the close islands and tidal pool areas. Be mindful of the tide so you don’t get stuck.

  • The first half mile of the trail from Wentworth-Coolidge Mansion has a series of unmarked offshoot trails.  Stick to the yellow loop so not to impact more areas with unofficial trails- with the exception of the marked viewpoint.

I really enjoyed Little Harbor Loop twice this week. When I brought the kids, we didn't do the full loop - we just went down to the viewpoint and back.  This was the perfect length for my 2 year old.  Afterwards we enjoyed the lawn and waterfront views of the Wentworth-Coolidge Mansion who's grounds were open to the public.  I hope you get to enjoy it too!

See more photos and adventure on my INSTAGRAM and FACEBOOK!

Little Harbor Loop Trial in Portsmouth New Hampshire
Little Harbor Loop Trial in Portsmouth, New Hampshire

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Monday, August 10, 2020

Morgan and Percival Loop: Ladders, Caves, and Amazing Views

Morgan Percival Loop has ladders, caves and amazing views

Somehow I'd gone this far being an avid New Hampshire hiker without even hearing about the Mount Morgan and Mount Percival peaks.  Then, thanks to social media, I've been seeing photos of people climbing ladders, pushing packs through narrow rock holes, and enjoying stunning views on these lakes region peaks.  The first chance I got, I wrangled two work friends into joining me and we thrilled at the Morgan and Percival loop hike.  

Here's how to recreate this adventure...

Adventure: Mount Morgan and Mount Percival Loop 

Getting there: These lakes region peaks are located near Squam Lake in Center Sandwich, New Hampshire.  To get there from the Seacoast, I took 101 West to 93 North.  From there, take exit 24 onto Route US-3, NH-25 toward Ashland/Holderness.  Follow US-3 for 4.5 miles, then turn left onto NH-113.  The trailhead will be on the left after 5.5 miles. There is an overflow parking lot across the street, however, be warned - this trail has been extremely popular this summer and even on a weekday morning, my friend and I got the last spot open at 10 am.  Weekday hikers should plan for 9 am or earlier and weekend possible earlier!
crawling through caves on mt morgan
After ladders, hikers crawl through cave on Mount Morgan
    Both peaks can be hit in a loop.  It was recommended to travel clockwise - hitting Mount Morgan first.  To do this, from the trailhead, hike about 0.1 mile to the junction where the trails meet.  Veer left on the Mount Morgan trail.  The trail ascends consistently through hardwood forest with moderate terrain.  The trail leads to a set of three ladders that allows you to climb a rock face.  THIS IS OPTIONAL!  My friend Kaley and her dog took the bypass while Danielle and I took the ladders.  Footwork is a little tricky on the third ladder.  Once up the ladders, the trail continues through a short and narrow cave.  Crawl through the rock and you will climb out onto a beautiful ledge with stunning views of the lakes and peaks below.  I really enjoyed this experience but those who are afraid of heights, struggle with mobility, young children, dogs, and large packs should take the bypass.  
    After the ledge, there is a short and somewhat difficult slab with high exposure to get to the near-summit view.  We spent a good half hour on this ledge view where the two trails meet up again.  From there, you will head back into the woods and pass the official summit of Mount Morgan (no view).  Continue onto the Crawford-Ridgepole trail through short, dense forest to Mount Percival.
    Mount Percival's summit has even more expansive views of lakes and peaks below.  The challenging portion of Mount Percival is directly below the summit - where hikers quickly descend into a boulder field followed by caves and rock outcrops.  At one point, we all had to remove our packs (even my small one) to descend a vertical drop into a hole.  I felt like Indiana Jones!  Looking at the map, there is a bypass for this as well, however we didn't take it.  This would be impossible for a large dog that could not be carried, a large pack (like baby carrier), or those with mobility issues.
    After the exciting caves, continue a moderate/steady descent on the Mount Percival Trail.  To get back to the parking lot, take the Morse Trail at the junction (unless you parked at the Percival parking lot), to return to your car.  
Caves and Rocks on Mount Percival
Crawling over boulders and caves on Mount Percival
Difficulty: Moderate with (optional) sections of difficulty - ladders, caves, and rock ledge/boulders

Distance: Entire loop is 5.1 miles
Enjoying the view on Mount Morgan
Enjoying the view on Mount Morgan, New Hampshire

- Take the clockwise loop with Mt Morgan first. This way you will be going with the flow of other hikers and also won't have to go down ladders.

- Parking is limited and fills fast on this popular hike.  Also, we did not have cell service in the parking lot.  Plan ahead and have a back up plan if the parking lot is full.  Street parking is prohibited. 

- There are no bathroom facilities available.

- Dogs are allowed on the trail but it is not advisable to take dogs on ladders and caves.  Take the optional bypass.  

- I do not advise carrying a baby-carrier on this hike.  The cave crawling is narrow and tight.  It would be extremely challenging and possibly unsafe to travel with a baby.

- Weather watch - ladders and caves are dangerous when wet.

- Practice LNT, practice social distancing, and wear a mask.

- Want to see what I packed for this hike? Check it out at my IGTV.

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Saturday, July 25, 2020

Ledges, Lichens, and a Loop - Southern Maine Nature Trail

    In the late hours when other people are scrolling social media, reading a book, or binging Netflix, I am lying in bed internet-searching for new trails for myself and my kids.  Although I hike all year round - summer is truly my biggest "hiking season".  I have summers "off" and like to fill my days with my young children hitting the trails.  Here on the Seacoast, we have amazing kid-friendly, but I'm always looking for more.  And this week, I found one!  
    Nestled in a small preserve on the South Berwick/Ogunquit town lines is a perfect little-kid loop trail that provides views of ledges and even caves - all covered with beautiful lichens and mosses.  What's more, it's a loop!

Southern Maine Nature Trail with a cave

Here's how to recreate this adventure...

Adventure: Kenyon Hills Preserve Loop Trail in South Berwick, Maine

Getting there:  For GPS purposes, the official address location is 110 Ogunquit Rd, South Berwick, Maine.  To get there from Dover, NH take Route 4 (Portland Ave) towards South Berwick, Maine.  Continue on Route 4 until it splits in South Berwick.  Curve right to get on Agamenticus Rd and drive for a quarter mile.  Turn Right on Emerys Bridge Rd and continue for 1.6 miles.  Turn right at Bennettlot Rd and continue for 4 miles.  Finally, turn right onto Ogunquit Rd.  The trailhead is on the right about 2 miles up.  The trailhead is well signed saying "Kenyon Hill Preserve: Great Works Regional Land Trust" from the road and their is a small uneven (free) parking lot.  The trail is open dawn to dusk.
kenyon hill preserve sign in South Berwick Maine
Trail sign from the road: Kenyon Hill Preserve / Great Works Regional Land Trust

  From the parking lot, walk back from the road.  There is a small laminated signed stapled to a post showing the loop (see photo).  I also used AllTrails to record my hike so I wouldn't get lost. The trail is a well blazed one mile loop with blue blazes, however there are small small offshoot trails.  
    From the initial fork, we decided to start right - doing a counter clockwise trek.  This was a great choice because a lot of the "attractions" are early on this portion of the trail.  We saw huge glacial erratic boulders covered in lichen and moss, towering rock faces, and smaller rock piles perfect for toddler/preschoolers to climb. 
    The trail is easy but has some roots and rock tripping hazards (my four year old fell a few times).  There are small changes in elevation gain but nothing too noticeable. About half way through the loop we went up an incline and according to the AllTrails topo map, we were at the tallest point in elevation on the trail.  We scrambled up a large rock and enjoyed our lunch.   
    The last half mile of the trail was easy, flat, and straight.  Even though this trail is only one mile, our scrambling and exploring of small off-shoots clocked our hike at 1.8 miles, and we spent 90 minutes here!  The climbing rocks and cave made it a really fun one for kids, but adults will enjoy the varied views and beautiful lichen/moss covered rocks as well.
Curly lichens grown on large rock faces throughout the trail
Curly lichens grown on large rock faces throughout the trail

Difficulty: The short distance and fairly easy terrain makes me categorize this trail as over all EASY but Great Works Regional Land Trust that manages it, labeled it "moderate".

Distance: 1 mile loop. However, we must have done a lot of off-trail rock exploring because I clocked our trek at 1.8 miles total.  


- Parking is limited but it was not busy.  We only saw one other hiker on a sunny, summer weekday morning. There are no bathrooms or trash receptacles at the trailhead.

- The trail was clean.  Please keep it this way by carrying out your trash.

- Keep track of the blue blazes.  There are other "non-official" trails that are not blazed.  We accidentally meandered down a couple.  

- Bring bug spray.  The bugs weren't horrible but there were a few wetland type areas along the trail where the mosquitoes were noticeable.  

- Dogs are allowed on the trail.

This trail reminded me of one of our other favorite loops - the Winnie-the-Pooh Trail - that also has rock ledges and caves.  The kids really liked it and so did I.  I'm so glad my late night internet searches paid off!

Southern maine trail for kids

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Beautiful kid friendly hike in southern maine

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

5 Miles, 3 Peaks, 1 Loop: Day Hike in New Hampshire's Lakes Region

New Hampshire Lake region hike

My summer quest to seek out new and beautiful hikes continues!  I "found" this hike by following another New Hampshire hiker on Instagram.  She showed photos of a loop hike that incorporated three mountain peaks - all with fantastic views of New Hampshire's iconic Lakes Region.  This is hike was an attractive choice for me for three reasons:

1. It's close(r) than the Whites (only an hour from the Seacoast)
2. It has amazing views of mountains and lakes from the peaks
3. It's a loop!!!

I found friends to tackle it with me on a hot and humid late June day.   I loved it so much...I did it again the next week!!

Here's how to recreate this adventure...

Adventure: Piper, Belknap, and Gunstock Loop

Getting there: The trailhead is located on Carriage Road in Gilford, New Hampshire.  To get there from the Seacoast, I drove west on Route 11 (Mt Major Hwy) from Alton toward Gilford.  From here, take a left onto 11A (Cherry Valley Road).  Drive about 8 miles and take a left onto Belknap Mountain Road.  After 1.3 miles, turn left onto Carriage Road.  After 0.4 miles the lower parking lot is on the left.  It has room for about 4 cars.  Parking is not permitted along the road.  When we got there the lot was full (weekday morning) but there is an overflow lot about a quarter mile (guessing) up the road on the right that can hold an additional 5 cars or so.  This is where we parked then walked down the road to the trailhead.
Standing on Piper Mountain
Standing on Summit of Piper Mountain
Trail:  The trail system is complex but well signed.  I recommend using a map or recording your trip through AllTrails.  We frequently double checked were on the right trail system.  I decided to take the trail clockwise- starting with Gunstock, then Belknap, then Piper.  
    The trail entrance to Gunstock Mountain is just at the lower parking lot.  It was actually kind of hard to find but it's just up hill from the large trailhead sign.  
    Once on the trail it was a pretty steady up to the Gunstock summit.  Before you reach the actual peak there's a nice viewpoint (with a picnic table) that overlooks the lakes.  At the summit you are reminded that this is a ski hill!  We saw another hiking group eating a snack in the shade of the chair lift.  There are fabulous views of Lake Winnipesaukee. 
    From Gunstock, go back into the woods and follow signs to Belknap.  The trail dips down gradually and then climbs again to get to Belknap Mountain - peaked with a climbable fire tower for the view!
To get to Piper Mountain, take the White Trail to the Old Piper Trail to Piper Mountain Summit.  This is a fairly bare summit and my favorite of the three.  I enjoyed wandering around to see views from all sides. 
Continue on the Old Piper Trail down to the parking lot.  
Difficulty: Moderate - The up and down make this a workout.  All Trails claims there is 1,827 ft of elevation gain in total which is nothing to squawk at!  Still, there is no technical skill needed for the climb (no slab or scrambling) - just good old fashioned up and down.  

sign on gunstock mountain trail

Distance: 5.5 mile loop


- I've done this hike twice in the last month.  The first time, I arrived on a sunny weekday around 10 am and the lower lot was full (4-5 cars).  There were still plenty of spaces in the upper lot (4-5 cars).  The street is covered with "No Parking" signs for over a mile, so if you want to guarantee a spot, get there early and avoid weekends.  The second time I went it was a cloudy/rainy day and there was no competition for spots.

- Use AllTrails to help guide your way.  There are a lot of side trails running in and out of Gunstock and Piper and a hiker could easily take the wrong trail.  All the trails are well marked, but unless you have a clear idea of which to take, I'd recommend the assistance of a map or technology.

- There are no bathroom facilities at the trailhead.

- This is a dog friendly trail.

My friends and I really enjoyed this loop.  If felt like we got so much bang for our buck!  I ended up going back the next week and did just the Piper peak in the rain with another friend.  What a difference the rain made - gorgeous bright green moss and trickling streams really gave the trail a romantic vibe.  This hike is one of my new favorites!
Views in Belknap Mountain Range

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Monday, June 22, 2020

Bald Peak - Mountain View at less than 3,000 feet

Last week, after visiting Sugar Hill to see the lupines, my friend Kaley and I decided to tackle a hike in the area before heading back to the Seacoast.  Bald Peak came up in my All Trails search as being in the area, having a view, and being a moderate climb.  The 4.5 mile out-and-back trail was lightly trafficked on a June Tuesday afternoon and all I hoped for - moderate climb and amazing summit views all to ourselves.  

Enjoying a view with dog on Bald Peak, White Mountains

Here's how to recreate this adventure...

Adventure: Mt. Kinsman Trail to Bald Peak

Getting there: The Mt. Kinsman trailhead is located just north of Franconia Notch State park in Franconia, NH.  To get there from the Seacoast or Massachusetts, take I-93 North through Franconia Notch.  Take exit 34 C onto NH-18  North toward Echo Lake.  Follow NH-18 north 6 miles and turn left onto Kerr Rd which turns into Wells Rd. After 2 miles, turn left onto NH-116 South.  The trailhead is 2 miles down this road on the left. There is a small parking lot.  There is no fee box or bathrooms.  It is two hours from my home in Rochester/Dover area.

Waterfall on Mt Kinsman Trail
Waterfall along Mt Kinsman Trail

The trail is mostly a steady uphill climb.  Although strenuous to constantly climb up, there is no technical slab, rocks, or slides on this hike.  We slowly climbed through hardwood forest, passing what I assume is some sort of maple shack in the first quarter mile.  The last mile or so we were rewarded with some small stream crossings including some beautiful cascades and a small waterfall.  Water was low and it was easy to cross.  
    The last quarter mile we reached the junction for the Bald Peak spur.  Turn right and follow the spur trail that brings you to the open peak.  The "summit" rewards you with a gorgeous 270 degree view of the Kinsmans and northern Franconia Notch.  There's a large open rock slab with a boulder sitting in the middle. We loved sitting in the sun and enjoying the view.  Kaley even said she thinks it's more impressive than Mt Willard (I disagree).  To return to the car, go back the same way you came up.  It is an out-and-back trail.

Difficulty: Moderate.  The steady uphill climb can make you really huff and puff and small brook crossings can be somewhat challenging but there's no technical hiking/climbing skills needed.

Bald Peak Spur Trail
Bald Peak Spur Trail
Distance: 4.5 miles total 


- There are no bathroom facilities available at the trail head. 

- Parking is free.

- Hike this in June and pair it with a trip to see the Sugar Hill lupines!

- This is a dog friendly hike.  Please be considerate to hikers and leash your dog when approaching others.

Panorama of summit of bald peak
Panorama of summit of Bald Peak

A Perfect Day

Combine wildflower viewing with a White Mountain hike and stellar views made for a perfect day in the Whites.  Perhaps I will have to recreate this next June!

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View of Mount Kinsman from Bald Peak in the White Mountains
View of Mount Kinsman from Bald Peak

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Sugar Hill Lupines - Wildflower Photo Spots

I've been wanting to go to Sugar Hill, New Hampshire for years to see the yearly lupine blooms.  Unfortunately, something has always stopped me from making the drive during it's short season.  Usually, as a teacher June would be my craziest and most hectic month of work.  That, coupled with the two hour drive each way from my home on the Seacoast, and also a photo trip not being the best choice for toddlers kept me away.  Also, the town celebrates the blooms with a yearly lupine festival and although this sounds wonderful to many, I'm not one for crowds and stressful parking situations.  However... this year due to COVID, the festival has been canceled, summer break started early, and the kids are still in daycare part time.  For the first time in YEARS, I realized I could go!  Perhaps it's a perfect time for you to go too? It's not too late!

Here's how to recreate this adventure...

Adventure: Walking through fields of lupines in Sugar Hill, New Hampshire

Getting there: The small town of Sugar Hill is located on the northwestern outskirts of the White Mountain National Forest. From Seacoast New Hampshire, take I-93 North.  Take exit 38 toward NH-18/NH-116/NH-117/NH-142 toward Franconia/Sugar Hill.  Take NH-117 toward Sugar Hill.  See below for my photo spots!

When To Go: Peak lupine season in Sugar Hill is the second week in June.  I went June 16, 2020 and it was peak!  Now it is June 18 and told still peak.

Photo Spots:  I made three photo stops on my photo tour but you could easily have more.  Here they are below:

Photo Stop 1:  Polly's Pancake Parlor. 
Polly's Pancake Parlor is located at 672 Sugar Hill Road and was the first stop on my photo tour.  Due to COVID, the adorable breakfast restaurant was closed which left a wide open parking lot for my first stop.  Across from the diner is a large field with a moderate patch (I'd guess half acre) of closely growing lupines.  Views of the mountains are a beautiful backdrop, as is the old barn with a white horse casually munching.  Previous visitors have made trails through the flowers.  It was gorgeous!

Walking through lupines across from Polly's Pancake Parlor in Sugar Hill, NH.
Walking through lupines across from Polly's Pancake Parlor in Sugar Hill, NH.
Barn across from Polly's Pankcake Parlor.
Barn across from Polly's Pancake Parlor.

Photo Stop 2: Sugar Hill Road and the Stone Wall.  
From Polly's, continue up Sugar Hill Road and there will be another field on your right.  Multiple cars were pulled over for this spot.  A stone wall along the road opened to a path to enter.  This spot is more packed with flowers and tight trails wove through the blooms.  In the back of the field are some large bounders which make a great photo spot or way to climb up and view the flowers.  There are no mountain views here but the flowers were the prettiest I saw. 

Dense lupines on Sugar Hill Road.
Dense lupines on Sugar Hill Road.

Enjoying sitting on a rock surrounded by lupines
Enjoying sitting on a rock surrounded by lupines.

Photo Stop 3: St Matthew's Chapel
From Photo Stop 2, continue up Sugar Hill Road about a mile to where it curves and you will see St. Matthew's Chapel.  This is a well photographed white steepled church provides sightseers a classic view of the church and lupine fields below.  There was a lot of yard work being done the day we were there, so I passed on getting photos at this spot - NEXT YEAR!  Any google search of "St Matthew's Chapel in Sugar Hill" will reward you with a preview.

Photo Stop 4: Sunset Hill Conservation Land
From St Matthew's, continue on Sugar Hill Road through the curve and take a left onto Sunset Hill Rd.  You will see an iconic red barn and the "Pioneer Wedding Barn" business.  Up the road on the left is a conservation area including a lupine field with views of mountains beyond.  Sightseers parked along the road and strolled through the acre side lupine patch.  The blooms here weren't as close together.

Red Barn and lupines on Sunset Hill Road.
Red Barn and lupines on Sunset Hill Road.


- I am not aware of how crazy and crowded this get's during the actual lupine festival but Tuesday (June 16th) I didn't have to share the space with many other people.  It also could be much more crowded on weekends. Per CDC guidelines, I wore a face covering when passing other photographers.

- Don't trample new paths.   I stuck to paths already broken in.

- Be patient and courteous to other photographers.  No one likes a "photo-bomber".

- There are no bathroom facilities at these locations.  Plan ahead.  


After my photo session, my friend Kaley and I drove five minutes away to the Mt Kinsman Trailhead and enjoyed a hike up Bald Mountain! 

Thank you to the instagrammers who helped me find these spots!  Be sure to follow me for more photos and ideas at FreelanceAdventurer or on Facebook at The Freelance Adventurer.

Monday, June 1, 2020

Peverly Pond Loop - Short and Sweet Boardwalk Loop

There are two things I absolutely love about Peverly Pond loop trail - it's short enough for my two year old to walk without being carried and it's entirely on a boardwalk.  What's more, this little 0.4 mile loop offers water views of the Great Bay National Wildlife Refuge and has a large, free parking lot.  It's perfect for a quick jaunt through the woods, quick family walk, or a stroll with the stroller.  

Peverly Pond Boardwalk

Here's how to recreate this adventure...

Adventure: Peverly Pond Loop Trail

Getting There: The trail is located at the end of Arboretum Drive in Newington, NH.  To get there from Dover area, I take 16 south to exit 3 toward route 3.  At the roundabout, go straight to get on Arboretum Drive. Take this road 2 miles until it ends at the parking lot.  The trailhead is well signed next to the restrooms.

Trail:  This flat, wide trail is a boardwalk loop.  It offers views of the pond - look for turtles and great blue herons, as well as meandering through the forest.  

Difficulty: Easy! This trail is also stroller and wheelchair friendly.

Distance: 0.4 mile loop
child walking boardwalk trail at peverly pond


- The trail can be buggy in late spring and early summer.  Pack bug spray. 
- No dogs allowed on this trail - leave them at home.

- Although there are public bathrooms available at the trailhead, at the time this post was written COVID 19 precautions have temporarily closed them.

- The refuge is open dawn to dusk.

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Views of Peverly Pond

Friday, March 6, 2020

White Ledge Loop in Winter: Moderate White Mountain Hike with a View

It's hard to get much better than this.  White Ledge loop trail is one of my go-to hikes.  Last weekend I finally hiked it in winter, and like every other season - it was perfect. This 4 mile hike has everything you need for a convenient and worthwhile trek: shorter drive, loop trail, moderate/dog friendly trail, and mountain views.  I've enjoyed this trail in every season.

White Ledge Loop Summit in Winter, White Mountains, NH

Here's how to recreate this adventure...

Adventure: White Ledge Trail in Winter
Trail Sign at Junction for loop.
Getting there: The trail is accessed from the White Ledge Campground on Hwy 16 in Albany, New Hampshire.  It is only 5 miles south of Conway, NH.  In winter, the campground entrance is blocked and not plowed.  We parked on the side of the highway, not ideal, but there aren't many options.  We saw another hiker park in the business lot across the highway, then walk across but I'm not sure if that's technically "allowed".  I love that this trail is only one hour from my home in Rochester. In camp-season months, hikers park just inside the campground entrance on the right and there is a WMNF fee associated with parking (currently $5). 

Trail: Walk straight through the campground entrance to the clearly marked trailhead sign at the back of the campground.

The trail starts straight and flat. There is a small stream crossing in the first quarter mile.  Follow the yellow blazes for 0.3 miles until you reach the trail junction and start of the loop.  I have only ever gone counterclockwise.  This choice will lead to a longer and more gradual incline and your descent steep and shorter. 

The first third of the hike is a gradual incline through hardwood forest with the shadow of White Ledge summit on your left.  Be careful to stay on the trail.  In winter, we discovered it was easy to lose your way as there were no fresh tracks or path to follow.  The trail will take a left turn and start to increase steepness as you climb up the ledge.  In winter, footing with traction was easy as all the rocks and slab were covered in snow.  Around 2 miles, the blazes turned to cairns and for a couple minutes we had trouble finding the buried rocks.  Eventually we found the trail and continued up to the ledges.  As you climb, look behind you!  We were gifted with gorgeous clear views! 

At about 2.5 miles, you will reach the official summit - a partially clear view on your left of southern Whites.  Past the peak, you continue on the loop and get some excellent views of Mt Chocorua on your right.  There are a few steep parts on the early descent but nothing I'd label as difficult by White Mountain standards.  MicroSpikes and trekking poles helped keep our footing.

Winter proved to be another great season to hike White Ledge loop trail.  As usual, even on a gorgeous weekend, we only saw one other hiking pair here.  This is the perfect hike for someone looking for a sweet solitude hike with some great views.
Keep an eye out for Blazes.  It's easy to lose the trail.
Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 4.1 mile loop plus extra walking through the campground to road.
Winter afternoon light.  Can you see the trail?  Look for blazes!

- Trail can be icy or snowy in winter.  I recommend preparing with traction.  I personally prefer using MicroSpikes and trekking poles to keep my footing but saw the other hikers with snowshoes. 

- If hiking in winter, you'll have to park on the side of the highway.  There is no access to bathrooms and no parking fee required. The campground is open late May - labor day weekend.  During these months, park inside the gate and expect to pay at the self service area.

- Dogs are allowed on the trail. 

- Careful to stay on the trail.  The yellow blazes are easy to lose and the trail is not well worn.  Use an AMC White Mountains Trail Map #3 to find location and trail information.

View of Mount Chocorua from White Ledge Loop Trail.
You might also enjoy these similar experiences:

- South Moat Mountain in Winter

- Boulder Loop Trail

- Liebeskinds Loop in Winter